Aug. 16, 2012
-- Westlake Village, California--"What did you do over summer vacation?" was never answered so meaningfully as when a team of Oaks Christian students followed the call to spend two weeks serving orphans in Haiti. They were warned about extreme poverty, yet they went anyway. They were warned about devastating living conditions that continue to leave the people of this country without clean water, food and safe shelter. Still, the Oaks Christian team--consisting of alumni, current high school students, and faculty chaperones--went despite the cautions. These students believed they could make a difference and believed there was hope awaiting them. The hope came in the form of an unassuming American woman who has been laboring in Haiti, not just since the earthquake in 2010, but for more than 30 years. Mariam Frederick is the founder of New Life Children’s Home, an orphanage organization that has been giving hope to Haiti's children for decades, despite the many sets back of natural disasters and cultural, political, and economic obstacles.
Like the rest of the team, Oaks Christian student Grace Napolitano returned from this mission trip with love for the people of Haiti and in awe of Mariam Frederick. Grace told of a story of a 40-something Haitian man who stopped by the orphanage to visit Mariam and to tell her that he was one of her orphans 30 years ago. He would not be alive today without her help then. “This was not only my first mission trip, but it was my first time I had ever been out of the United States,” said Grace who experienced firsthand the extreme poverty and homelessness of many Haitians. “The last day, we took one of the orphans to visit his grandma because she had asked Mariam for a tent. When we got to her house, the roof was slanted due to the earthquake. One little movement would knock that house down and she would be dead. I’ve slept in a tent on a weekend camping trip, but she needed the tent to live in. So, the boys in our group set up the tent for her and when they had finished she had tears in her eyes. It was a kind of reality check in my life.”
Haiti couldn't be more different than the Conejo Valley, but OCS students discovered that these Haitian children were much like them. They had hopes and dreams. They wanted to grow up to be someone, even though the odds are clearly against them. While in Haiti they also served in other area orphanages and brought love in deed. Love in deed is something OC students are encouraged to do through community and world service. The mission trip to Haiti is only one of several international compassion trips Oaks Christian School offers to its students. This summer, OCS students also served God Cares School in Uganda where Oaks Christian has a long standing relationship with God's Care School. In the coming school year, OCS students will be able to choose from service trips to Guatemala, India, Romania, China and other countries.